Jul 5 2015

City Council and Planning Commission to View Presentation on Developing Shell Station into Commercial and Multiple Family Residential Use

Mixed Commercial/ Muliple Family Residential development to be presented –

On Monday, July 6 at 5 p.m., the City Council will hold a joint work session meeting with the Planning Commission to learn about a development proposal for 29 Wildwood Avenue from the project team. The site is the long established Shell gas station at the corner of Wildwood and Grand Avenues, owned by City Gateline, LLC. The 10,478 square foot lot is primarily in Piedmont, but 789 square feet are within Oakland. Like the former PG&E site, which was not developed as affordable housing, this site meets the state and ABAG criteria for affordable housing.

29 Wildwood elevations

29 Wildwood elevations


The Shell gas station would be demolished and replaced with a three story mixed use structure featuring retail space on the ground floor and two floors of three two-bedroom residential units on the upper floors. As proposed in concept drawings, staff notes that the project does not meet Piedmont’s parking requirements.

This unique pre-application presentation by a private owner on a planning matter at a joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission will not be broadcast or visually recorded. The special session will take place in the Police Department Emergency Operations Center (EOC), 403 Highland Avenue.

29 Wildwood floor plan

29 Wildwood floor plan


The public is invited to be present and comment on the proposed project.

Recent controversy centered on a City Council enacted zoning change allowing multiple family residences in the Commercial zone.  The change eliminated the long standing requirement permitting only commercial uses or single family residential dwellings in the Commercial zone.  The City Charter states zoning changes require Piedmont voter approval.

This is the first multiple family proposal under the new Commercial zoning change.

3 Responses to “City Council and Planning Commission to View Presentation on Developing Shell Station into Commercial and Multiple Family Residential Use”

  1. Is this a joke??????? A three story set of micro-units on that parcel is ridiculous.

  2. The session tonight was well-attended by Wildwood and Grand Avenue residents, with letters from many others who could not attend, being out of town for the holiday. While billed as a study session to “introduce a new development type that is not typical to Piedmont”, for which many “Council members, Commission members and staff may not have experience with”, the session quickly devolved into a guidance session for the developers with some Council and Commission members voicing support for the project and giving advice to the developers on how to proceed with their variance requests. Variances are a big element of this project because design guidelines have not been developed for the new mixed used zone and the project clearly exceeds what zoning code there is for this zone. Nonetheless, one Council member was willing to make this project a “test bed” for the new mixed use zone and another recommended that the developers check with Oakland on parking requirements for projects of this type. Planning staff indicated that it was “backing into” design review guideline with this project rather than develop the guidelines first, even though consultant funds to do so have been available since 2013. Credit Mayor Fujioka and some Commissioners for seeking more background and discussion on mixed use developments.

    “Backed-into test bed” projects using Oakland zoning code can be seen just down the road on Grand between Wildwood and Mandana and it is not a pretty sight. There is a completely inconsistent development scheme to that stretch of Grand with terribly designed buildings and planning. The designer of 29 Wildwood is a highly skilled Piedmont architect who will certainly do right by the project as will the property owner but proceeding with a project of this size and exposure in Piedmont without guidelines in place is poor planning for the new mixed use zone.

  3. July 2, 2015

    Piedmont City Council
    Piedmont Planning Commission
    c/o John Tulloch, City clerk

    Dear Council and Commission,

    At the heart of design review in Piedmont is the great deference given to residents. In contrast, the 29 Wildwood draft proposal violates basic design guidelines of light, significant views of neighbors, set-back, hardscape coverage and is not compatible with existing architecture. As now presented the 29 Wildwood proposal seriously detracts from both quality of life and the real estate values of neighbors. The proposal would be well suited for high density commercial areas in Emeryville or Berkeley, but not the most heavily traveled gateway into Piedmont.

    This meeting would have been more appropriately scheduled after Summer break and broken up into two meetings: (1) A discussion of mixed-use/commercial guidelines and (2) the 29 Wildwood Ave proposal. With thoughtful design guidelines in place, a reasonable design can be realized that both provides the owner/design team of 29 Wildwood robust financial incentive and the neighborhood and City an attractive and appropriate new resource.


    Rick Schiller

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